Pele: Gordon Banks was a magic goalkeeper and a fine human being [VIDEO]
13 February 2019 National
The former Leicester and Stoke City star died peacefully overnight aged 81. In 2016, Banks revealed he was battling kidney cancer for a second time.
Despite playing in every game during England’s glorious 1966 World Cup triumph, it was a save four years later from a Pele header that catapulted Banks to global stardom.
In a post on Facebook, the Brazil legend paid tribute to his friend and looked back on that iconic moment – which is still widely regarded as one of the greatest stops of all time.
Pele wrote: "When you are a footballer, you know straight away how well you have hit the ball. I hit that header exactly as I had hoped. Exactly where I wanted it to go. And I was ready to celebrate.
"But then this man, Banks, appeared in my sight, like a kind of blue phantom, is how I described him.
"He came from nowhere and he did something I didn’t feel was possible. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how he moved so far, so fast.
"Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being."
Sir Bobby Charlton, who played alongside Banks in 1966, echoed Pele’s words.
He said: "I was proud to call him a teammate. Obviously we shared that great day in 1966 but it was more than that. Even though I was on the pitch and have seen it many times since, I still don’t know how he saved that header from Pele.
"Gordon will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."
Banks made a total of 73 appearances for England during his career, and picked up six FIFA goalkeeper of the year awards.
Current England boss Gareth Southgate said on the Football Association website: "I am deeply saddened to hear of Gordon’s passing.
"An all-time great for England, I was privileged enough to be in his company on a number of occasions.
"On behalf of everyone connected with England, I send my condolences to his wife Ursula, his family and friends."
Peter Shilton, who followed Banks as England number one, tweeted: "I’m devastated – today I’ve lost my hero our condolences to his family rip Gordon."
At club level he managed two League Cup wins – the first with Leicester in 1964 and Stoke in 1972.
Banks lost the sight in his right eye after being injured in a road accident in 1972 and retired at the age of 34 as a result.